Only CJ Rene Corona is under fire, not the entire Judiciary
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-12-15
Like a battle plan prepared by the Duke of Wellington who vanquished Napoleon in Waterloo – the impeachment of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice (CJ) Renato “Rene” Corona came hours after the besieged CJ rallied his troops in the Judiciary last Monday.

Just as your Chair Wrecker had predicted, those December 1 and 5 tirades on the SC and its CJ by President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) were but the first volleys fired and more salvos were to be unleashed. Last Monday, December 12, 188 Congressmen led by House Speaker Sonny Belmonte sent to the Senate the impeachment complaint against CJ Corona.

Per Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., House Justice Committee Chairman, CJ Corona’s impeachment was based on the following grounds, as enumerated by the GMA Network website: 

1. Partiality and subservience in cases involving the Arroyo administration;

2. Failure to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN);

3. Issuance of flip-flopping decisions in final and executory cases;

4. Issuance of the “status quo ante” order against the House of Representatives in the case concerning the impeachment of then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez;

5. Decision in favor of gerrymandering in the cases involving the 16 newly-created cities, and the promotion of Dinagat Island into a province;
6. Granting temporary restraining order in favor of former President Arroyo;

7. Failure and refusal to account for the Judicial Development Fund (JDF) and special allowance for the judiciary collections; and

8. Since the impeachment complaint was supported by more than one-third of all House members, it will be transmitted straight to the Senate for trial once the House approves it on the plenary.

Atty. Midas Marquez, the CJ’s mouthpiece and defender, tried to make an issue of the sending of the impeachment case to the Senate sans approval by the House Plenary. He accused P-Noy’s House allies of railroading the impeachment process. Was it ignorance that prompted Marquez to cry railroad when the law clearly states that one-third of the House can forward to the Senate an impeachment complaint without having to go through the Plenary? More than one-third (95 votes) of the House had signed the Corona impeachment complaint — 188 in all. Or was his statement a desperate propaganda maneuver to try to discredit what is a legal process?

Marquez should stick to reporting faithfully the developments in the SC, a task that he bungled when he announced the status of the controversial TRO (Temporary Restraining Order that would have allowed GMA to travel) after its first hearing. Justice Tony Carpio had snapped at Marquez to tell the truth.

It’s expected that CJ Corona will attempt to defend himself and try to refute the issues being raised against him. However, CJ Rene Corona has no business making his impeachment appear as an assault on the entire Judiciary. Only CJ Corona is under fire and for specific issues – but not the entire Judiciary.

In his WE STAND TOGETHER speech last Monday, CJ Corona said: “I want all of you to know that your Chief continues to be in command and will lead the fight against any and all who dare to destroy the Court and the independence of the Judiciary. We do not want to see a constitutional crisis befall our democracy, but if we are challenged to defend our independence, we shall not meekly walk away.”

“We must keep our guard otherwise the enemies of the Court will surely take advantage of our good faith,” the besieged CJ said. “I do not intend to leave you to fight this battle alone,” he added.

It’s precisely the questions about the CJ’s partiality – favoring the cases of GMA – that caused his impeachment. Those who want to impeach Corona are merely seeking reforms in our Judiciary. Corona is reversing the issue and is dragging the Judiciary into his fight.

Corona says that he doesn’t want to provoke a constitutional crisis but that will happen if the Judiciary follows the CJ’s suggestion and joins the fight. Do they think that they will win when a constitutional crisis has been created and extreme situations unfold? Have they bothered to see the public pulse, how many Filipinos want to see CJ Corona impeached and GMA jailed for all the transgressions she committed when she was president.

Even the once highly regarded Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ had lost a lot of fans when he started favoring the GMA side of this SC issue, even likening P-Noy to a broken record for the relentless assault on the CJ. Puzzled why this is now a different Fr. Bernas speaking, many in the social networks were asking if the marriage of his favorite nephew to Lulli Arroyo has affected his views.

Let’s pray that CJ Corona’s Ignatian values will guide him to make the right decisions. CJ Corona should remember the lessons Ateneans learned from the lives of Saints Thomas More and Thomas Beckett — public officials who sacrificed their lives in order to serve God.

Saint Thomas Beckett is a most appropriate role model. Appointed by England’s King Henry II as Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett refused to serve the king’s agenda when it conflicted with his commitment to God.

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  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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